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After displaying a remarkable sense of adventure and willingness towards creativity on their amazing second album (The Ethereal Mirror) and an interim EP Statik Majik, major things were expected of Cathedral’s third effort. To say the band delivered on all possible expectations would be an odious understatement. Even a pretty serious membership shuffle (new rythym section entirely) could not derail the band’s creative forward chug. And while there’s nothing here totally outside of the band’s established sound scope, this is their most focused album ever, forging a batch of classic songs that are on par with nearly anything conjured by the band’s influences.
Blasting off with the hip shake of “Vampire Sun,” it’s apparent the band’s moving parts are well oiled and ready to lay serious groove on all present eardrums. “Utopian Blaster” rides upon sounds cut from the Sabbath stones, and guess who contributes guitar work here? Yup, it’s Tony Iommi himself. Could a band of this ilk ask for a better seal of approval? “Hopkins (The Witchfinder General),” if it hasn’t already, will earn a place among the finest metal songs ever penned. Both an homage to the Hammer horror film and the band’s prime NWOBHM influence, this cut storms through some of the greatest guitar riffs ever laid down, set down upon the band’s now signature groove. It would be hard to beat that cut, but the epic length title song makes a good try. Another sterling song, this one stretches into a trudging doom section complete with some fine keyboard insertions. “Place Of Fallen Majesty” and “Night Of The Seagulls” make the most obvious stabs at the pure doom metal roots the band were shaking loose from, and fine they are. And although “Electric Grave” sounds like it could possibly be constructed from discarded bits of other songs on board, it still retains it’s own heart and soul. Not the best thing here, but still pretty friggin’ good.
My only (and I do mean only) issue with this album is the bottom end of the production could have been boosted quite a bit. No problem though, just crank the low end up on yer stereo and immerse your soul in the glorious vibes herein. Really people, this is not only this band’s best work, but a true accomplishment for metal as a whole. Miss it not.